Taggart's two-tower Carling Avenue proposal too much for councillor

Carling Avenue proposal

A plan to tear down an office building near the Ottawa Hospital’s Civic campus and replace it with a pair of residential highrises is too much of a stretch for the local councillor, who says the additional density would cause traffic headaches and overshadow nearby homes.

Taggart Realty Management recently filed a proposal with the city to construct two towers of 22 and 28 storeys at 1081 Carling Ave., just east of Parkdale Avenue, that would include more than 460 residential units. 

The one-acre property, which Taggart bought outright from its previous partners in 2019, is occupied by an eight-storey office building that includes a pharmacy, medical laboratory and other health-care tenants.

Current zoning rules limit buildings on the site to nine storeys. But in its development application, Taggart argues that the property is “underutilized” and is large enough to accommodate its project.

“While we understand this is a big change from the existing site use, we feel the site warrants the proposed development,” Taggart senior vice-president of development Jeff Parkes said in an email to OBJ.

Parkes said the property is tailor-made for residential highrises due to its location on a main arterial road and its proximity to multiple transit stops and a potential future LRT station at the intersection of Carling and Parkdale. He said the site “offers the opportunity for a level of intensification that is rare in the core of the city.”

"We all know additional density along Carling is coming, but it doesn’t have to be the sky is the limit."

But Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper, who represents the area, said he’s worried a development of that scale would have a “major shadow impact” on the neighbourhood directly north of the site, which consists mostly of single and semi-detached houses. 

“I’m having a really difficult time imagining two towers of that height,” he said. “We all know additional density along Carling is coming, but it doesn’t have to be the sky is the limit. This would be a different discussion if they were proposing a single, 15-to-20-storey tower with some substantial buffering to the adjacent lowrise neighbourhood.”

Taggart’s plan calls for a 28-storey highrise next to Parkdale Avenue with 258 residential units and a 22-storey tower near Hamilton Avenue South that would feature 204 suites. A four-level underground parking garage would provide spots for 340 vehicles, with 47 spaces reserved for visitors.

Leiper said nearby residents already complain about traffic congestion on Parkdale Avenue. The addition of more than 300 cars to the area would compound those woes, he said, adding that another builder is proposing an 18-storey highrise with 240 housing units and more than 130 parking spaces just a few blocks north at the corner of Parkdale and Wellington Street West.

Parkland 'buffer' zone

“You’re bookending these two ends of a very, very congested Parkdale with very dense developments, and I expect that we’re going to hear a lot about that,” Leiper said.

Parkes defended the proposed design, saying a park planned for the north end of the property would act as a “buffer” between the two highrises and surrounding homes. He added that the builder is also planning to create another “nicely landscaped public space” at the corner of Carling and Parkdale.

“We think improving this corner will be a big benefit to the site and provide more free moving space for the existing and future transit stops in the area,” Parkes said.

Leiper said he’s already told Taggart he won’t support the plan in its current form. The councillor is hosting a virtual open house on Oct. 12 to get feedback on the proposal from residents.

Parkes said Taggart will “consider” Leiper’s views as it works through the proposal, adding the developer plans to get input from representatives of the Civic Hospital Neighbourhood Association. 

Many aspects of the project – including whether the housing units will be rentals or condominiums and whether the site will include a retail component – have yet to be determined, Parkes said. 

The development is still “many years away” from being launched, he explained, noting that tenants in the existing office building still have leases in place and will need time to relocate.

“We intend to continue to operate the building for some time,” he said.